CSU’s Deadly West Nile Experiments on Birds May Violate State Law

PETA Calls On State Authorities, Feds to Investigate, Fine, and Cut Funding

For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2019

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Fort Collins, Colo. – Colorado State University (CSU) experimenter Gregory Ebel captures healthy crows, robins, and sparrows in the wild, infects them with West Nile virus, keeps them alive while the virus spreads to their organs—sickening them—and then kills them.

PETA has recently discovered that he appears to be trapping crows without the required state license.

If Ebel is found to be operating illegally, he could be fined thousands of dollars and lose his federal funding.

PETA has requested that both Colorado Parks & Wildlife and Ebel’s federal funder, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), investigate. NIH requires compliance with state laws as a condition of funding.

“Ebel captures, sickens, and kills crows and other intelligent birds with no regard for these beings’ right to lead their own lives,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. “It’s unethical, it’s bad science, and it’s probably illegal. PETA calls on state and federal authorities to stop him, sparing birds an agonizing death in a laboratory.”

In 2017, Ebel captured 132 American crows and 168 American robins. Following infection with West Nile virus, the birds develop a fever and anorexia and have difficulty controlling their bodily movements. Some species—including crows—experience systemic infections followed by multiple organ failure and death. PETA notes that his study doesn’t aim to develop a vaccine or a treatment for the virus in either birds or humans. Rather, its purpose is to understand, as an academic matter, the behavior of the virus in different host species. Ebel himself admits that viral mechanisms, including virulence and pathogenicity, differ radically between species—and as such, his experiments have little relevance to treating West Nile virus infections in humans.

PETA’s complaints to Colorado Parks & Wildlife and NIH are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind